Foster care leaders address pandemic challenges in online town hall


GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — The coronavirus pandemic and closures aimed at slowing the spread are affecting nearly every aspect of our society — including foster care.

On Tuesday, leaders from the foster care organizations across Michigan held a virtual town hall to discuss how the pandemic is affecting the more than 12,000 kids in foster care. It was hosted by Samaritas, the largest foster care organization in the state.

Nationally, there is always a shortage of foster homes, which the opioid crisis made worse.

The pandemic has added its own challenges, including keeping kids out of school and limiting their access to technology, struggles with managing family visitations amid social distancing and economic uncertainty for families that might otherwise consider fostering.

“For our community, I just want to reiterate some of the messages about the village and being a strong member of the village to wrap around all kids and families, in particular, those who interact with the child welfare system,” Kristyn Peck, CEO at the West Michigan Partnership for Children, said during the town hall. “If you’ve ever thought about becoming a foster parent, now is the time. You can do it from your couch virtually as trainings have been moved to Zoom.”

The conversation, a replay of which can be found on Facebook, includes firsthand experience from a couple fostering 1- and 2-year-old siblings.

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